Flying followed by bus or train is the quickest way to get to Niseko from the Tokyo and Osaka/Kyoto areas. New Chitose Airport, southeast of Hokkaido’s capital Sapporo, is the closest airport to Niseko. It serves flights from all over Japan as well as these points overseas: Bangkok, Seoul (Incheon), Busan, Dalian, Shanghai, Beijing, Hong Kong, Taipei, and Guam.
Flights from Tokyo’s Haneda and Narita airports take about 90 minutes to reach New Chitose Airport. Since these are some of the busiest air routes in Japan, it’s best to book flights as early as possible.
Intercity bus services connect New Chitose Airport with Niseko’s Grand Hirafu area in about two and a half to three hours, with a brief stop at Rusutsu Resort. Depending on the bus you take, it may also stop at other resorts in the area, such as Niseko Annupuri.
White Liner and Hokkaido Resort Liner run buses from the airport to Niseko from December through March, with the last service at 3.30 pm and 9.30 pm respectively. Tickets on White Liner are 3,600 yen one-way and 6,400 yen return; tickets on Hokkaido Resort Liner are 4,100 yen one-way.
Chuo Bus and Niseko Bus operate buses from the airport to Niseko from December through March. One-way tickets are 2,600 yen and round-trip tickets are 4,500 yen. The last service leaves at 3.30 pm. Tickets must be reserved. Niseko Bus also operates bus services from August through October.
Trains on the Chitose and Hakodate Main lines link New Chitose Airport with Kutchan Station, the main station near Niseko, in about 2 hours and 30 minutes (when taking Airport rapid services on the Chitose Line) to 3 hours and 40 minutes (local services only on the Chitose Line). A change of trains is required at Otaru Station. Depending on the time of day, the waiting time at Otaru Station can be as short as 10 minutes or more than one hour.
The fare from New Chitose Airport to Kutchan is 2,880 yen. From Kutchan Station, you will have to take a taxi, bus or other means of transport to get to Niseko Grand Hirafu, which is about 15 minutes away by car, or other areas in the greater Niseko resort.
By Rental Car
There are a number of car rental companies around New Chitose Airport. Driving from the airport to Niseko takes around two and a half to three hours. Driving in in Hokkaido in winter can be hazardous, especially for drivers who are not used to driving on icy roads or in blizzards and whiteout conditions. See our detailed article on car rentals in Japan for more information.
At New Chitose Airport, car-rental counters will give you a ticket for a shuttle bus that will carry you to the actual rental lots. The following rental car companies are reliable and have English information online: Nippon Rent-A-Car, Nissan Rent-A-Car and Toyota Rent-A-Car.
Staying Overnight at New Chitose Airport
If you need to spend the night at New Chitose Airport, there are two hotel located right at the airport terminal and several hotels at the nearby train station. See the Sapporo Airport Hotel website for details.
Article by Tim Hornyak. Photos by bj_sozai/pixta (1), masakun/pixta (2). All rights reserved.